(CBS) Four starting spots are believed to be spoken for as the Bulls open the 2016-’17, assuming everyone is healthy.
Rajon Rondo will be at point guard, with Jimmy Butler and Dwyane Wade flanking him on the wings. Robin Lopez is also expected to start at center, though coach Fred Hoiberg hasn’t confirmed that yet.
As for the power forward spot? That’s still an “open competition,” Hoiberg said Tuesday after the team’s first practice of the new season. The battle will be between Niko Mirotic and Taj Gibson.
“It’s an open competition, and that’s the thing I’m most excited about — today was a great indication of the competitiveness of the practice,” Hoiberg said. “Guys were out there flying around. They were competing. They were talking. They were playing together. They were playing unselfishly. And we’re going to play a lot of different combinations in this preseason.
Mirotic and Gibson each bring a different skill set to the table. Mirotic is a stretch-four who shot 39 percent from 3-point land last season. Gibson does more of his work down low, with his strengths being rebounding and his tough defense.
Mirotic, Gibson and second-year pro Bobby Portis all got first-team work Tuesday, Hoiberg said. There’s a school of thought that Mirotic has the inside track to start because the Bulls need more 3-point shooting on their starting unit with Butler, Wade and Rondo all historically subpar from beyond the arc, but Hoiberg hasn’t settled on anything yet.